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DeFazio Introduces CAHOOTS Act to Reduce Violence, Strengthen Mental Health Crisis Response Resources

Aug 7, 2020
Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today introduced the Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) Act, legislation that will reduce violence in mental health crisis response and strengthen community-based mental health resources.

The bill is the House companion to legislation introduced by Senator Ron Wyden.

“For decades, Eugene’s White Bird Clinic’s innovative CAHOOTS program has led the way in prioritizing community-based mental health resources in crisis response situations,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio. “As our country continues to explore ways to reduce police brutality and adequately address mental health and substance use disorder crises, we must invest more in proven models that prioritize effective, trauma-informed care through robust health care and social services rather than immediately involving law enforcement. Investment in programs like CAHOOTS could alleviate the significant burden on local police. The CAHOOTS Act will help to bring Eugene’s successful model to communities across the country.”

The CAHOOTS Act is modeled after the successful Eugene program run for 30 years by White Bird Clinic that collaborates with local police to respond to community mental health crises and substance use disorders. The legislation grants states enhanced federal Medicaid funding (a 95 percent federal match) for three years to provide community-based mobile crisis services to individuals experiencing a mental health or substance use abuse crisis. It also provides $25 million for planning grants to states to help establish or build out mobile crisis programs and funds multidisciplinary mobile crisis teams that are available 24/7, every day of the year, and trained in trauma-informed care, de-escalation, and harm reduction.

Oregon Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) and Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) are original co-sponsors of the legislation, along with Reps. Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), André Carson (IN-07), and Jennifer Wexton (VA-10).